Website owned and operated by the:
Rail City Historical Museum
162 Stanley Drive
Sandy Creek, NY 13145
Robert J Groman, Owner/Curator
"The first steam-operating railroad museum in the U.S.A."
The equipment Dr. Groman purchased consisted of No. 38, a consolidation type, 101
ton, 2-8-0 locomotive built in April, 1927 by The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia,
PA, a 63 ton tender, a former Brill electric combination passenger and baggage coach (#27),
an all steel railroad post office and baggage coach (#5436), a 4 wheel "bobber" caboose with
wood body and steel under frame (#17), one mile of 60 pound rail from the Shoups Run
branch line, two tool cars, one motor car and miscellaneous parts from the Saxton Shops.
"Old 38" as it appeared on the H&BT track siding when Dr. Groman visited Huntingdon, PA on April 10,
1954. J. L. McGrath poses on the running board while Dr. Groman's wife, Doreen (in checkered jacket),
chats with railroad workmen. The Pennsylvania Railroad's mainline track is off to the left of the crossing
gate. [Photo by Stanley Groman, RCHM Photo Collection].
The Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad and Coal Company was formed in
1852 to haul coal from Broad Top Mountain. The line extended south from Huntingdon, PA
through Saxton, Riddlesburg and Hopewell. Branch lines extended from each of these three
towns into the Broad Top Mountain coal fields. The main line then continued on to Bedford,
PA, a total distance of 52 miles from Huntingdon. The Pennylvania Railroad had connections
at both ends of the H&BT line, i.e. in Huntingdon and Bedford. Huntingdon, PA is located
33 miles east of Altoona, PA along the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The H&BT had its
headquarters, roundhouse and shops in Saxton, PA.
The H&BT was in its zenith in the late 1880's and early 1900's. But increasing
competition from other railroads and trucking companies followed by the aftermath of the
stock market crash of 1929 would prove to be too much for line. The H&BT saw better
times during the 1940's war years but eventually ceased operations and went bankrupt after
100 years on October 11, 1953.
A former resident of Pennsylvania and founder of the Colorado Railroad Museum,
Robert W. Richardson, informed Dr. Groman of the bankrupt H&BT railroad. He was
familiar with the operation as he had photographed it when he lived in Pennyslvania. He
now lived in Alamosa, CO collecting railroad equipment for his Narrow Gauge Motel and
Museum. Just a year earlier Richardson met Dr. Groman in Alamosa and recommended
that if he wanted a narrow gauge locomotive he should purchase the one in Gallup, NM as
Rio Grande equipment in Colorado was hard to acquire.
Scrapping operations were advancing rapidly when Dr. Groman visited Huntingdon, PA
in April, 1954. The broker for bankrupt road was the Pittsburgh Rail and Machinery
Company in Pittsburgh, PA. Their representative, J. L. McGrath, is credited for saving the
only remaining equipment from the H&BT that was sold to Dr. Groman. It was so apparent
that he went to great length to negotiate the sale to save the equipment that Dr. Groman
stated that he was going to rename the locomotive the "J.L. McGrath" when it operated at
Scrapping operation on the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad in 1954. Had Dr. Groman not
visited the H&BT on April 10, 1954, Old 38 would have been included in this photograph along with the rest
of the equipment purchased for Rail City. [RCHM Photo Collection]
Locomotive #38 made railroad history on June 6, 1954 when it made the historic "Last
Steam Passenger Run" on the New York Central's Watertown line from Syracuse, NY to
Lacona, NY. It was the last steam passenger train on the Central as well as the last steam
passenger train to depart the Central's Syracuse Station. The previous week (May 29, 1954)
the train also made a historic 'last run' on the Central's "Old Auburn" road from
Canandaigua to Syracuse. It was delayed three hours in reaching Syracuse due to the fan
fare associated with trip.
Former Brill electric passenger coach #27 and railway post office coach #5436 in the H&BT yard in
Huntingdon, PA in April, 1954. [RCHM Photo Collection]
Promotional photograph sold at Rail City Museum in 1955. The caption reads: "Historic 'Old 38' that
made the Final Steam Passenger Run in New York State on the New York Central Railroad June 6, 1954 as
she steams into Syracuse, N.Y. Dr. Groman Founder of Rail City Museum waving from the cab window.
(Picture from Wirephoto, Associated Press News)" [RCHM Photo Collection]
H&BT train in Huntingdon, PA on February 14, 1953. Locomotive No. 37 was built for the H&BT to the same
specifications as No. 38 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in April, 1927. Behind No. 37 is the railway post
office coach No. 5436 and the former Brill electric passenger coach No. 27. [RCHM Photo Collection]